Dhakkis (drum beaters), “Sindhoor utsav” (kum kum smearing) and other events by Bengali devotees stood apart as the highlight in city in the past few days.

The Dasara festivities being organised with a variety of cultural and religious programmes by the Vijayawada Bengali Association here concluded on Thursday at Kandukuri Kalyana Mandapam. Over two hundred of devotees from the coastal districts took part enthusiastically in the traditional rituals such as “Sindhoor Ustav”.

Amidst rhythmic beats from Dhaks (percussion instrument), the devotees took out a procession to mark the conclusion of the Dasara celebrations by immersing the idol in the river Krishna.

Sindhoor Ustav, which had a special significance to Bengali married women, witnessed women smearing kum kum on each other's forehead al a Holi seeking Goddess Durga's blessing for the welfare of the family. People came in large numbers to witness the vibrant event in which the participants showed their reverence to custom and religious fervour.

“We have been conducting the puja for the past 37 years with the generous support from the locals. Several business houses and educational institutes have come forward and offered moral, material and financial support for the successful conduct of the festival. We brought the artisans from Kolkata to prepare the idol. The priests, dhakkis (drum beaters) and cooks were invited from West Bengal,” said association president Utpal Talukdar.

He said Laxmi Puja and Kali Puja, which are associated with the Durga Ustav, will be celebrated on October 11 and 26 respectively. Mr. Ranjit Roy, secretary of the association, said that apart from the religious activities, the association staged a good number of cultural activities such as games and competitions for children and adults.